Friday, September 16, 2005

The Struggle to Be an All-American Girl: A Summary and a Reaction

Part 1: Summary

In “The Struggle to Be an All-American Girl” Elizabeth Wong wrote about her and her brother’s experience of changing their culture from Chinese to American when they were children. They went to the Chinese school due to their mother’s passion that they go to the school though they really disliked it. At the school, they learned not only Chinese but politeness as well. When she became ten years old, Wong began to study not Chinese culture but American culture which she wanted to acquire and regarded as better than Chinese culture. Chinese was “a source of embarrassment” for her (P.21 para7). She hated it and considered it as ordinary language. Especially in Chinatown, the flow of Chinese sounded disorderly and fanatical. She did not want to be thought of as the same as them. In her brother’s case, he wanted to speak as a typical American and he even blamed his mother for his poor English speaking skill as well as his mother’s poor English. According to Wong, after two years learning at the Chinese school, they were allowed to stop going there. Wong thought of herself as a multicultural person. Finally, she said that she was one of them an American; she was not Chinese, and she still is, but is sad about that.

Part 2: Reaction
The main ideas in “The Struggle to Be an All-American Girl” are how Wong changed her culture and how she feels about it now. She and her brother had to go to the Chinese school, but they hated Chinese culture and wanted to be Americans. Because of their hate, they might have had a grudge against their mother who forced them to go there. They were allowed to quit after two years and they feel that they are All-Americans now. Their ambition to become Americans has been realized. Wong is multicultural and not Chinese. However, when she looks back to her childhood, she feels sad. Her sadness is important because this feeling shows us her present idea on her original culture. She can understand why her mother took them to the Chinese school at this point. She could be an American and still having Chinese culture. There are many All-Americans but she wants to be someone who has a double cultural background, and she had many opportunities to keep her Chinese culture. She could be a Chinese- American. The reason for her sadness is that she missed these opportunities. She thinks that holding multiple cultural backgrounds is interesting. Through being an All-American Girl and leaving her Chinese culture, she came to understand the importance of her original culture and the true meaning of being multicultural.


  • At 11:31 AM, Blogger Michael Krauss said…

    Hi Shingo,

    I think that your summary and reaction are "right on." That is, you've certainly understood the main point of the writer and done a good job expressing it.

    Here are a couple of suggestions in bold:

    Chinese was “a source of embarrassment” for her (Wong, 21). (If you are using MLA style)

    Finally, she said that she was one of them, an American; she was not Chinese, and she still is solely an American, but is sad about that.

    She could be an American and still maintain her Chinese culture.

    Let me know if you have any other questions. Keep up the good work!


  • At 10:47 AM, Blogger Alexis said…

    What does "After two years of writng with a moc but and reciting words..." mean at the end of the story? Please write me back at Thx!

  • At 5:25 PM, Blogger Thee said…

    We're reading this story again in my English class, though we did it last year. As a Chinese American, I can honestly NOT identify the author's initial feeling of ashamedness of her culture. In fact, I feel a little offended. Her description of it seems like a slap in the face to what I am most proud of.
    However, I am glad that the author realized her mistake. That nothing is wrong with being both American and Chinese. I just wish she could have realized this herself sooner.

  • At 3:31 PM, Blogger Wesley said…

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  • At 3:45 PM, Blogger Wesley said…

    I'm a English new learner,please ingnore my wierd grammar and spellings. I red this essay last night in my English class,I told my teacher strightly, "This article made me feel sad."My teacher tried to explain the real meaning at the end of the essay, but I couldn't get it very well.Now from this page I can understand the author's thoughts, thank you.
    However, as a Bachelor of Arts in Chinese language and literature I really don't agree with her opinions, sort of self-humiliated opinions. Inspite of freedom of speech, author's opinions are kind of extreme , maybe because she was just a kid at that time. by the way I don't like Chinatown either, I came from a beautiful place of middle China,There is nothing like Chinatown at all. China is a multinationalities country,different cultures in diffent parts of China.I hope one day she can get an opportunity to konw what's the Chinese traditional culture really like^^The only two Chinese things connected with her are her family and a small Chinatown.She doesn't know what's the real Chinese style life. Please allow me to give you another word:
    wanna see real Chinese festivals? go to China;
    wanna try top dilicious traditional Chinese foods? go to China;
    wanna kown how do Chinese people look like? go to China.
    ------As a Chinese person,I'm proud of our long-history cultures,I also respect all cultures in the world..I hate the current government and the communist party but these can't stop I love our country,our people.

  • At 4:45 PM, Blogger expandingmyhorizons77 said…

    I'm Chinese American, and reading this story offended me a little. I understand where the author is coming from, but there's nothing wrong with going to Chinese school and living in Chinatown. I can't relate to living in an all Chinese area because my parents live in an affluent mostly Caucasian neighborhood, but I'm not ashamed of my culture. It's understandable that the author wants to be more "Americanized" because media portrays Chinese culture as backward and embarrassing :/ I'm glad she realized there's nothing wrong with being Chinese American in the end.


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